Thursday, August 06, 2020

The challenges of following Jesus.

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16: 24 - 25).

Friday 7th August 2020, 18th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Sixtus II, Pope and Martyr. (+ 258). Sixtus with four of his deacons were captured at the Altar while celebrating Mass and beheaded at the order of Emperor Valerian. Today is also the First Friday in August when we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Today's Gospel appears to be chosen for the saints we are celebrating today. Jesus laid down the grim cost of discipleship:
#1 Take up your cross and follow me. Your cross are the trials that you can't escape: health, joblessness, poverty, etc.
#2 Be prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice with your life if it becomes necessary. "For whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

As the God-Man filled with the Holy Spirit and Wisdom, Jesus knew that no one will respond to His challenge unless the bait is bigger than the sacrifice. And it is. Here is what Jesus promises:
1. The Holy Spirit with His gifts and fruits are promised.
2. The Presence of Jesus is always with the disciple.
3. Peace, joy, courage, contentment are always there on tap.

These are real benefits. I am currently reading the Lives of Saints. It appeared as if more than a third are martyrs. They are made up of mature men and women, boys and girls, princess and peasants, clerics and lay faithful. I asked: What made all these people choose to give up their lives if this is the only life they have?

The saints who took up the challenges of discipleship believed Jesus. Do you believe Jesus?
"For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct." (Matthew 16: 27).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

First Friday in August 2020.

August 07, 2020 First Friday in August.

Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 8th month of the year, we look at Promise #8.

#8.  "Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection."

Who are the fervent souls?
Fervent souls are people who hear the word of God and take it to heart. They allow the word to influence their thoughts, words and actions. They place the Kingdom of God and holiness of life above every other thing. Even while living on earth, they experience the peace, joy and contentment of the Blessed. Because they trust and honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, they grow from strength to strength.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, August 7th 2020.
For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The great Feast of the Transfiguration.

"In a resplendent cloud the Holy Spirit appeared. The Father’s voice was heard: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him." (Cf Matthew 17: 5 Entrance Antiphon).

Thursday 6th August 2020, 18th Week in Ordinary is the great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

What is the Transfiguration? In the presence of Peter, James and John, witnesses chosen by Him, Jesus' face and clothing became dazzling with light. Moses and Elijah were present conversing with Jesus.

Why the Transfiguration?
#1 To have 3 eyewitnesses to the testimony of the Father to Jesus as the beloved Son of God.
#2 To confirm the testimony of Moses and Elijah.
#3. To show clearly the divinity of Jesus as God.
#4 To reveal the future of mankind. We shall be like Jesus at the Resurrection.
#5 To note the command of the Father to listen to Jesus as the anointed authority of God's Word.

We cannot listen to Jesus without the power of the Holy Spirit. Are there any biblical and historical ways we can listen and discern the sure voice of our Shepherd speaking to us?

1. "I speak to you through the Scriptures."
2. "I speak to you through my holy servants."
3. "I speak to you through the Holy Eucharist."
4. "I speak to you directly through locution."
5. "I speak to you through dreams."

The Lord's personal message to you is called Rhema. Treasure this Utterance more than silver and gold. Your destiny is in the Message. I believe my Rhema is: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His holiness and I will take care of all your needs.

Listen to the voice of the Son as the Father commanded us.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

The Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major.

"Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour." (Matthew 15: 28).

Wednesday 5th August 2020, 18th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major. This Basilica was dedicated after the definition of the Dogma of Mary as the Mother of God in the Council of Ephesus in 430. The great Church was later renamed as St Mary Major.

The Blessed Virgin Mary said to the Angel Gabriel: "Let it be done to me according to your word." And the Word became Flesh in her womb. With this, Mary is acclaimed our great example of Faith. In our key Scripture for today, Jesus said to the Canaanite woman: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour." (Matthew 15: 28).

What is faith? Before the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel, Mary knew God as Almighty, All-knowing, All-powerful, All-loving, All-merciful, etc. Her profound personal knowledge of God is the foundation of her faith.
The Canaanite woman is a believer who was searching desperately for a miraculous healing for her child. She heard about Jesus from a friend or a neighbor. She believed immediately what she heard about the miraculous power of Jesus. She packed her bag and went in search of Jesus. Her strong faith and expectations created resilience in her. She was prepared to be rebuffed by Jesus and was determined to have her miracle.

The Bible praises faith as one of the greatest gifts of God and a profound mystery. A little child is capable of great faith as a very old woman. Some of my favorite Scriptures on faith are:

#1 "The just shall live by faith." We live by faith and not by sight or feeling. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we live by the word of God that cannot fail.
#2 "We are saved by grace through faith." God's grace is abundant to save us and fulfill the desires of our heart but you must accept the word you receive in faith.
#3 Faith comes by hearing the personal word of God to you and saying a firm Amen to it.

The 11th Chapter of Hebrews is the list of some of the most important people in the Bible. They all achieved fame and greatness through their faith.

You too can overcome every challenge through faith. Two great tools to help develop your faith:

#1 Daily consumption of the word of God.
#2 Daily conversation with God through prayer.

Since you know this, you will be blessed if you do it.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, August 03, 2020

The Feast of the Patron Saint of Parish Priests - St John Vianney.

"Leave them [Pharisees] alone. They are blind men leading blind men; and if one blind man leads another, both will fall into a pit." (Matthew 15: 14).

Tuesday 4th August 2020 is the feast day of the patron saint of parish priests, the Curé of Ars, St John Vianney (1786 - 1859). French. What do you want from your parish priest?
#1 Celebrate Mass with reverence and devotion.
#2 Always be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be the face of the loving mercy of Jesus Christ.
#3 Assist the poor as best as they can.

St John Vianney did the above three to the highest degree.

Our key Scripture for today indicts teachers of religion who are blind to the truth and revelations of God while leading millions to dark holes. Jesus Christ our Teacher complained to mystics like St Catherine of Siena that He Jesus endowed many priests with good brains and provided generously the scholarship for their training in the best universities. When they graduate, they pursue careers and serve themselves. So the all powerful Divine Providence chose simple women like Saints Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Therese of the Child Jesus and made them Doctors of the Church. Do you know what a Doctor of the Church means? These are people who are certified by the Church as authoritative teachers of the faith. You can trust them. They are not so-called scholar PhDs whom Jesus characterize as "blind men leading blind men."

St John of Vianney is a trustworthy servant. Let us pray constantly to the Lord to send numerous such priests to the harvest.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Rough Seas in Pandemics.

"At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14: 27).

Monday 3rd August 2020, 18th Week in Ordinary Time. Pandemics is anything but ordinary.

The early Church adopted the idea of lectionary [Book of Daily Mass Readings] from the Jewish custom of reading extracts from the Old Testament on the Sabbath. The lectionary has evolved and the last revision was 1994. The daily Mass Readings we find in the lectionary are inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Roman Missal is my Book for reading and meditating on the word of God daily because I believe that God uses the inspired texts and its daily arrangements in the lectionary to speak one message to the Church worldwide.

What does the Spirit seem to be saying to the world today through the Mass Readings?

#1 "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4: 4 Gospel Acclamation).

Some people worry too much about the economy, job and money but God reminds us He is in control.

#2 "At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14: 27).

The disciples of Jesus were terrified by the rough sea and storms. The boat symbolizes the Church today adrift in the open wild and unfriendly sea of the pandemics. We disciples of Jesus are attacked by fear, worry and doubts. What may God be saying to the world before calming the sea? The answer may be in the first Reading for today:

# 3 "For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: A yoke of iron I have placed on the necks of all these nations serving Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and they shall serve him; even the wild animals I have given him." (Jeremiah 28: 14).

Nebuchadnezzar may symbolize false gods and idols especially money and materialism.

Jesus knows exactly where we are on the sea. He knows exactly what we need: Repentance, Reconciliation and Revival. O that we will listen to His voice today. Let us not harden our hearts.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, August 01, 2020

The superabundant, super satisfying food.

"Thus says the Lord:
"Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come!
Buy corn without money, and eat,
and, at no cost, wine and milk." (Isaiah 55: 1).

Sunday 2nd August 2020, 18th Week in Ordinary Time. The first and Gospel Readings point us squarely to that incredible Banquet that is a celebration: the Eucharist.

"[Jesus] Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds." (Matthew 14: 19).

What did Jesus do above?
#1 He took the loaves.
#2 He blessed it.
#3 He broke it.
#4 He gave it to His disciples.

If you have not noticed, these are the same actions, Jesus did at the Last Supper. These are the same steps every priest takes at Holy Mass. Confirm this for yourself in your next Mass.

This is not the only thing we need to notice at the feeding of the 5000 which is type and shadow of the Eucharist. Matthew 14: 20 below gives an insightful commentary on the Event:

"They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full." (Matthew 14: 20).

The Eucharist is a meal of the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It never fails to satisfy. It is a superabundant gift. Look at the first Reading which points to the Eucharist:

"Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy.
Pay attention, come to me;
listen, and your soul will live." (Isaiah 55: 2)

Jesus said that the Eucharist is an Everlasting Covenant. We find this promise too in our first Reading from Isaiah.

"With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favours promised to David." (Isaiah 55: 3).

If you do not find the Eucharist absolutely satisfying, have a conversation with your spiritual director.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, July 31, 2020

Feast of St Alphonsus Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorists.

"Then the princes and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve a death sentence; it is in the name of the Lord, our God, that he speaks to us.” (Jeremiah 26: 16).

Saturday 1st August 2020, 17th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Alphonsus Liguori (1696 - 1787). Italian. Bishop and Doctor of the Church. St Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists). Trained in civil and canon law, he was a great moral theologian and sought after for his gifts as a confessor. St Alphonsus Liguori is the patron saint of moral theologians.

Our Scriptures for today's Mass present us the predicament of the call to be God's spokesperson in a world that simply doesn't want to listen to Him.  In the first Reading, the Prophet Jeremiah was condemned to death by priests and temple prophets. He was saved by officials who had the courage to exercise their oversight authority. Saint John the Baptist was not so lucky in the Gospel text. Herod had absolute power and no subpoena or oversight could constrain him. He was as wild as King Henry VIII who beheaded two of his six wives.

Jesus warned His followers to be prepared for persecution and execution. Those who persevere to the end will be rewarded with everlasting life. John the Baptist and Jeremiah persevered to the end.

"Happy those who are persecuted
in the cause of right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5: 10).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Feast of St Ignatius Loyola.

"At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2: 10 - 11).

Friday 31st July 2020, 17th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Ignatius Loyola, SJ (1491 - 1556). Priest. Spanish. Today is the patronal feast of the Society of Jesus. Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus. His Spiritual Exercises which has been a potent force for spiritual renewal of individuals and groups is still very popular after 500 years.

Our key Scripture for today from the Entrance Antiphon speaks to the incredible love and attachment of Ignatius to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ our Lord. The personal motto of St Ignatius Loyola, Everything "For the Greater Glory of God" became the motto of the Society of Jesus.

It is this personal objective of St Ignatius Loyola that captured my heart and mind as a young college student:
#1 To know the Heart of Jesus intimately.
#2 To love Him passionately.
#3 To follow Him everywhere.

These lofty ideals produced giants of our faith like: Saints Francis Xavier, Peter Canisius, Robert Berllamine, Paul Miki, Edmund Campion, Aloysius Gonzaga and so many others.

St Ignatius Loyola pray for us.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Feast of St Peter Chrysologus.

"Jesus said to His disciples: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away." (Matthew 13: 47 - 48).

Thursday 30th July 2020, 17th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Peter Chrysologus. (406 - 450). Italian. Bishop and Doctor of the Church. St Peter Chrysologus was the Bishop of Ravenna. At a time when the Church was faced with the scourge of the Monophysite heresy, St Peter defended the two natures in Jesus Christ: Human nature and Divine nature. His theological teaching and preaching are characterized by exceptional clarity. Peter came down to us from history as a great homilist and his theological work on the nature of the Incarnation and the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in salvation history has lasting value.

We have seen a number of parables on the nature of the Kingdom of God of which the seed is the Church. Today we see the membership of the Church compared to the catch of fish by fishermen. The haul of fish contains good and bad fish. Isn't this the true picture of every diocese, every parish everywhere?. There are Church members who are so offended by this mixture of good and bad Christians that they want to get rid of the "bad eggs" at once.

Let us see what Jesus says about this:

"Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." (Matthew 13: 49 - 50).
God’s ways are not our ways. His thought is not our thought.

May God open our hearts to accept the words of His Son. (Cf Acts 16: 14).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Feast of St Martha.



"Jesus told [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 25 - 26).

Wednesday 29th July 2020, 17th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Martha. (Jewish). Along with Mary her sister, Mary Magdalene, a couple of other Marys, Anna the Prophetess and of course the Blessed Virgin Mary are women mentioned by name in the Gospels who knew Jesus in the flesh. What a great privilege! Our Martha whom we honor today is the Matriarch of Martha's Vineyard. Busy and efficient, she provides for Brother Lazarus and Sister Mary.

Martha's response to Jesus astonishing revelation to her: “I am the resurrection and the life," is almost incredible:

“Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” (John 11: 27).

The whole ball game of our Christian religion hinges on faith. God called Abraham and made a great promise to him. He responded in obedience of faith. God announced the Incarnation to Mary. She too responded in obedience of faith. Chapter 11 of Hebrews is a list of Who is Who in the Bible. The common thing among all of them is Faith. They all accomplished impossible things because of Faith.

How strong is your faith? What are you doing on daily basis to increase your faith? A few examples:

#1 Daily Prayer.
#2 Daily Word of God.
#3 Daily Examination of Conscience.

Faithfulness to the above will launch you far.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, July 27, 2020

Be prepared for spiritual warfare.

“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” (Matthew 13: 36).

Tuesday 28th July 2020, 17th Week in Ordinary Time.

The disciples asks Jesus to explain the Parable of the weeds in the field. What do you do when you do not understand a Bible verse or teaching? The Holy Spirit who is the Author of the Scriptures is using today's Gospel as a teaching moment to coach us to dig deeper in order to understand the message of Sacred Scriptures. Only the Scripture that you understand can benefit you. You can't apply to your life a message you have no clue about. What can we take away from the Parable of the weeds in the field?

First note the six elements:
“He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,  the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one,  and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels." (Matthew 13: 37 - 39).

We have six distinct elements in the Parable: The Sower, field, good seed, weeds, enemy, the harvesters.
This Parable reflects the state of the Church today. While we are asleep, the enemy sneaks into the field and sowed lies, falsehood, misinformation. Through this, the Devil sets Bishop against Bishop, priest against priest, nuns against nuns. Lay man against lay woman. The clear teaching of Jesus Christ becomes muddled.

What can you do? First, did you activate the Holy Spirit when you were baptized or confirmed? If the answer is Yes, get engaged. Get into Bible Study. The Holy Spirit will lead and guide you and teach you.
Nobody goes into this battle with empty head and raw emotions. Jerome teaches: "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."
Eliminate this shameful ignorance.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, July 26, 2020

God's Law of the Mustard Seed.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches." (Matthew 13: 31 - 32).

Monday 27th July 2020, 17th Week in Ordinary Time.

Jesus in our key Scripture for today gives a critical insight into the mystery not just of the kingdom of God but of all life. The principle of the mustard seed is the law of Biology. All life obeys the life cycle concept: birth, growth, maturity, decline and death follow each other. Everything is created small. "The word was made flesh" and got in-planted in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a tiny seed like a mustard seed. In the fullness of time, the seed became a little baby, then a boy and then the Man Jesus.

"The seed and beginning of the Kingdom" of God is the Church. (CCC 674). It began as a mustard seed. A few disciples. Today, billions of disciple Christians spread all over the world.
A great experience I still cherish was when I attended Micro Computer Technology fare in Paris in 1985. Microsoft and Apple also attended. They weren't well known then. I visited their 12 feet by 12 feet cubicles. Their beginnings were a mustard-seed-like startup. Today they are global giants.

How do we apply the principle of the Mustard to our life purpose, goals and projects?

#1 Water it by daily prayer.
#2 Get wisdom and insights via the Word of God.
#3 Trusting in God to see you through, walk by faith and not by sight or feeling.
#4 Perseverance. Nothing good is ever accomplished without perseverance. It takes a mango seed about 1400 days from planting to your dinner table.

God chose Steve Job and Bill Gates and used them to give the world two great products. These products are simply indispensable today in the new Evangelization. God Never Fails nor does He make a mistake. Trust Him.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Ask for anything and I will give it to you.

"In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said: Whatever you ask I shall give you." (1 Kings 3: 5).

Sunday 26th July 2020, 17th Week in Ordinary Time.

The first and second Readings and the Gospel this Sunday are true feast in the word of God. Don't miss the lavish spiritual nourishment.
Our reflection is from the first Reading: "Whatever you ask I shall give you."

What will you ask? What is your treasure? Where is your treasure? According to Jesus, the heart and treasure are always in the same place. Solomon asked for wisdom.
What is wisdom? Why is wisdom listed as the first of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit? Why is wisdom so highly priced?
Wisdom is the ability to make good choices. Your prosperity and peace depend on the choices you make. If you are a judge as every king is, you need wisdom to discern good from bad, the innocent from the guilty.
Who should you marry? Joe or John? Which career to pursue? Teacher or nurse? What time do you pray? Early in the morning or anytime you feel like?

The Lord was pleased that Solomon chose wisdom and He said to Solomon:
"I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you.  In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days."

Wisdom will bring you wealth, health, happiness and long life.
James teaches: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it." (James 1: 5). Ask for wisdom with faith and you will get it at once.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Feast of St James, Apostle.

"As he walked by the Sea of Galilee,
Jesus saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother
mending their nets and he called them." (Matthew 4: 18, 21).

Saturday 25th July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St James, Apostle. James and John are sons of Zebedee, all fishermen. They left their nets and followed Jesus when He called them from their fishing occupation. Peter, James and John belong to the inner circle of the group of Apostles. They witnessed the Transfiguration and were with Jesus at Gethsemane.

Our Scripture for today evokes the theme of the Choice, the Call and the Anointing. Peter, James and John were chosen for the role they played as leading pioneers of the Christian movement before their birth. In the fullness of time, Jesus came by the shore of the Sea of Galilee and called them. They were not the most qualified but Jesus anointed them for the ministry He had for them. Like Moses, Joshua and David, this anointing qualified them.

Have you found your purpose in life? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you. Keep asking Him until you find and embrace it fully. Remember one thing: It is the Anointing that breaks the yoke of fear, worry and doubt.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Feast of St Sharbel Makhlouf.

“Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart." (Matthew 13: 18 - 19).

Friday 24th July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Sharbel Makhlouf. (1828 - 1898). Lebanese Catholic priest, monk and hermit. Sharbel is known for his great devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament and his filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was a great miracle worker during his life and after his earthly life.

In our Gospel message for today, let us reflect on this illuminating words: "The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it." Does your problem with the word of God stem from the fact that you do not understand it? Do you understand the word of God as a personal message to you requiring a response or action? This response is called obedience of faith. No understanding, no response or wrong response.

So how do we understand God's word to us? Through prayerful reflection and meditation. Read the verse or the message several times. When the Lord spoke this Scripture to me: "Make my Kingdom and my holiness your top priority. I promise you that I will take care of everything you need." (Cf Matthew 6: 33). I read the passage hundreds of times. Eventually, the message went from my head to my heart and I understood it and laughed for joy.

"But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13: 23).

No understanding of God's love letter to you, no possibility of bearing fruit. Your ability to bear any fruit will be in direct proportion to your understanding of God’s word to you. God commanded Joshua to read the word He gave him and meditate on it day and night and always. This is the only way Joshua could succeed. (Cf Joshua 1: 7 - 8).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

St Bridget of Sweden: mystic and scholar.

"Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted." (Matthew 13: 11).

Thursday 23rd July 2020 is the feast of St Bridget of Sweden (1303 - 1373). Housewife, mother of 4 boys and 4 girls. One of the girls, St Catherine of Sweden is a canonized saint. Bridget persuaded her husband to become a Franciscan Tertiary with her. When the husband died, St Bridget moved to Rome where she founded the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer. St Bridget meditated long on the suffering and death of Jesus. God revealed to her the secrets of heaven. St Bridget is a mystic and authored books on ascetical and mystical theology.

St Bridget is an examplar of our Scripture for today:
"Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted." (Matthew 13: 11).
When it comes to the word of God, there are two classes of people:
#1 Insiders: the childlike who hunger for the things of God. God Himself feeds them and satisfies their hunger. They grow in the knowledge of the word and the mysteries of the kingdom. They persevere in their faith till death.

#2 Outsiders. This group hear the word of God but are distracted by anxieties about money, health, family, job. The word never takes root in their lives. They soon lose the little word of God they possess and soon revert to the faithless and unstable state in mind and heart.

Consider the Cloud of witnesses in heaven like St Bridget of Sweden whose life we celebrate today. They urge us on in our Journey of Faith  with joyful encouragement: "Heaven is amazingly beautiful. Fight the good fight and finish well the race that is set before you. Your golden crown is waiting for you."

"Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord." (Psalm 95: 8).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Feast of St Mary Magdalene.

"I will seek Him whom my heart loves." (Songs of Solomon 3:2).

Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Mary Magdalene. Jewish. One of the hand full of women who followed Jesus as He tramped everywhere preaching the Gospel. These women took care of the welfare of Jesus and His Apostles from their purse. But Mary Magdalene was unique and exceptional among these ladies. Jesus healed her of demonic possession and Mary could not forget this favor all her life.

The Church chooses appropriately the Songs of Solomon 3: 1 - 4 as the first Reading for her Liturgy today. The Songs of Solomon is an intimate love diary. Mary is characterized as she who says: "I will seek Him whom my heart loves."

Mary Magdalene trekked the Via Dolorosa with the other Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus. Both women stood under the Cross and watched Jesus die slowly. While the Blessed Virgin Mary did not hurry to the tomb on Easter Sunday because she heard and believed what her Son said about "rising from the dead on the third day," Mary of Magdala hurried to the tomb. She became the first human being to see the Risen Jesus. This is how St Mary Magdalene became the "Apostle to the Apostles."
"Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her." (John 20: 17 - 18).

Mary Magdalene is my patron saint. She reminds me of all the good things that Jesus has done for me and is doing for me every day and why I should seek and follow Him everywhere and love Him passionately. Mary Magdalene pray for us.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, July 20, 2020

God delights in mercy.

"You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins." (Micah 7: 19).

Tuesday 21st July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Lawrence Brandisi (1559 - 1613). Priest and Doctor of the Church. Italian Capuchin. Lawrence is an extraordinary man who used excellently the lavish gifts God bestowed on him. The Church remembers him for his profound gift and love for Sacred Scripture, the Holy Spirit, Prayer and Mary.

Who are the Doctors of the Church?
These are today the 36 men and women all of them saints who have made great contribution to the development of theology and doctrine through extensive research and writing. St Lawrence Brandisi is one of these giants of our faith.

Our first Reading from Micah is for me one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. Who can forget this phrase?
GOD DELIGHTS IN MERCY.

"Who is a God like you, who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever, but instead delights in mercy, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our iniquities?
You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins." (Micah 7: 18 - 19).

No one is like God when it comes to mercy. His record on mercy is everywhere in the Scriptures.
The ABC of Mercy summarizes this:
A. Ask for Mercy.
B. Be merciful.
C. Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, July 19, 2020

God teaches us what is good for us.

"O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery I released you." (Micah 6: 3 - 4).

Monday 20th July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Apollinaris. (Bishop and Martyr). Syrian. Died 79 AD in Ravenna, Italy where he was Bishop. Two things are most fascinating about our saint of today, Apollinaris:
#1 The Apostle Peter himself ordained him a Bishop.
#2 St Apollinaris had an extraordinary gift of healing. The pagan Roman priests were so jealous of him that they persuaded Emperor Claudius to martyr him.

Many of us will be familiar with our lead Scripture for today from the Lenten liturgies. "O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery I released you."

How sad it is that this captures the spirit of mankind. Consider this fact : Some of those who oppose migrations ferociously have themselves and their forebears benefitted most from what God characterized: "I brought you up from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery I released you."

Our Scripture for today may have greater insight for this pandemic period. God is calling for spiritual renewal. Some people reading this may not be alive in 30 days. The right question like the 3000 people that embraced Christianity after the sermon of St Peter on Pentecost Sunday is:
"Brothers, what shall we do?" (Acts 2: 37). The answer is given by the Prophet Micah:

"You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God."

The Apostle Paul teaches the Corinthians:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God." (2 Corinthians 1: 3 - 4).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The challenge of the moment.

"For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity." (Wisdom 12: 17).

Sunday 19th July 2020, 16th Week in Ordinary Time.

The first Reading today appears to speak to a world that lacks moral and spiritual leadership and influence in the time of worldwide pandemics. What is the challenge of the moment? Very simple. Moral and spiritual renewal. Is this what you hear from the messaging systems? How do we confront the evil in our world that is exposed by the pandemics?

When God sent the Prophet Jeremiah to a world that is arrogant, rebellious and stubborn in its evil ways, He warned Him:
"To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you—oracle of the Lord." (Jeremiah 1: 7 - 8)

Where are the Jeremiahs of our day? Who can read the signs of the times and tell us what is happening? God rebukes temerity and cowardice in those who know His power and decide to take cover in a crisis. "Do not be terrified on account of them, or I will terrify you before them." (Jeremiah 1: 17).

The challenge of the moment is intimidating but we have the promise of God to be with us.
"You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity." (Psalm 86: 16).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, July 17, 2020

Feast of St Camillus, the Priest - Nurse.

"When Jesus realized this [the plot on His life] he withdrew from that place. Many people followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known." (Matthew 12: 15 - 16).

Saturday 18th July 2020, 15th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Camillus de Lellis. (1550 -1614). Italian. Priest. Camillus gave his life to Jesus after a troubled youth. He worked in Giacomo Hospital. While working here, he heard the call from God to found an order dedicated to the care of the sick. God gave St Camillus a special love for the sick. He founded the Order of the Camellians and improved the treatment and care of hospital patients.

When Jesus retreated to the countryside to avoid his enemies, many sick people followed Him. He cured them all. People sought after Jesus because of His compassionate healing ministry. For Jesus, there was no need for hospitalization. He healed the sick instantly.

The Church founded early hospital systems and have been a key player in health-care services. San Giocomo Hospital was founded in in the 14th century by the Church to deal with the epidemic of syphilis in Rome.

Are you sick and in need of healing? Do you realize that you can lay hand on yourself, family, friends and call on Jesus with faith to heal . This should be the first step before going to the hospital. Medications and hospitals are gift of God to mankind. They should be used with deep gratitude to God.  Jesus is still active in the healing ministry and testimonies abound.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, July 16, 2020

I want mercy.

"I desire mercy, not sacrifice." (Matthew 9: 13).

Friday 17th July 2020, 15th Week in Ordinary Time.

Jesus answered the Pharisees accusing the disciples of breaking the Sabbath when they picked grains to eat: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."
In case they do not understand who is speaking to them, He added: "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
The Law-giver is standing before you.

How many covenants did God make with His people? How many failed? All! The Eucharist is the new and everlasting covenant. (Matthew 26: 26 - 28).It is a pure gift of grace and mercy.

"I want mercy not sacrifice." What is mercy? The Church has made it easy for us by listing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY
1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the homeless
5. Visit the sick
6. Visit the imprisoned
7. Bury the dead

SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY
1. Instruct the ignorant
2. Counsel the doubtful
3. Admonish sinners
4. Bear wrongs patiently
5. Forgive offences willingly
6. Comfort the afflicted
7. Pray for the living and the dead

Jesus teaches again and again, "I want mercy." Respond with the ABC of Mercy:
A: Ask for mercy.
B: Be merciful.
C: Completely trust Jesus for mercy.

This is the Age of Mercy. Mercy may well be the Last Covenant of God with mankind.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

"Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light." (Matthew 11: 28 - 30).

Thursday 16th July 2020, 15th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

What words do we associate with Mount Carmel? The Prophet Elijah, the Carmelite Order, St. Simon Stock.
On July 16, 1251 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St Simon Stock, the Superior General of the Carmelites in England and gave him the brown scapula. Mary promised her protection to all those who wear the scapula. This is the origin of the devotion of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Brown Scapula. The brown scapula is one of the numerous sacramentals of the Church. What is a sacramental?

"Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy." (CCC 667).

Sacramentals dispose us to receive the Sacraments with deeper faith. If you bless yourself regularly with holy water, your faith in the Sacraments grow. Examples of Sacramentals: Bible, Crucifix, Rosary, Statues, Some medals, etc.

In our Gospel for today, Jesus invites all the tired and burdened souls to Him. He promises that His yoke and burden are tailor-made for each of us.

The Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit instituted the use of Sacramentals like the Brown Scapula, the Miraculous Medal and so forth to help excite our faith and dispose our hearts to the reception of the Holy Sacraments.

"When you remember Me, I will be there." Every blessed object which elevates our hearts and minds to Jesus is useful for our journey to eternal life.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Feast of a childlike and simple man: St Bonaventure.

"At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike." (Matthew 11: 25).

Wednesday 15th July 2020, 15th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Bonaventure (1221 - 1274). Italian. Franciscan, Bishop, Cardinal and Doctor of the Church. Bonaventure is known as the Seraphic Doctor. He became friends with St Thomas Aquinas in the University of Paris.

There is a note of joy in the voice of Jesus as He talked about a secret of how the gracious and mysterious will of the Father works. We know that Abba Father has a tender love or preferential options for the widow, orphans and migrants. This is an Old Testament teaching. Jesus added another class of people to the preferential group: the "Childlike."

Who are the Childlike? Our saint of today, St Bonaventure will fall into this class. Although Superior General of the Franciscans for 17 years, Cardinal of the Church, eminent Theologian and Professor of Theology at the University of Paris, one of the 35 Doctors of the Church, Bonny is childlike in character. This is why it is the gracious will of the Father to reveal so much to him and to pile honors upon honors on him. The Father reveals to St Francis of Assisi a lot of truths and mysteries. Abba Father treats each of His childlike children differently. To some, He gives 10 talents of revelation, to others 5 and just one talent of revelation to others according to His gracious and mysterious Providence.

May we all benefit from the wisdom and simplicity of St Bonaventure whom we honor today.
"I am glorified when you honor my saints." Lord Jesus remember us who delight in honoring your saints.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Lily of Mohawk, Pride of the Americas.

"Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm!" (Isaiah 7: 9).

Tuesday 14th July 2020, 15th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Kateri Tekakwita (1656 - 1680). Born near New York. Daughter of a Mohawk chief. Kateri died at the age of 24. She had great devotion to the Eucharist and Jesus Crucified. She is known as the "Lily of the Mohawks" and is the patron saint of Native Americans.

"Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm!" God sent the Prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz and promised His full protection against the invading kings poised on destroying Ahaz and Jerusalem. Ahaz knew that Isaiah was a true and credible prophet of God. Ahaz did not believe the message of God from Isaiah.  St Kateri, a simple Mahawk maiden heard about the Gospel of Jesus Christ from a Jesuit missionary. She believed and asked for Baptism. There was much rejoicing on October 21, 2012 in the Vatican watching Mohawk warriors perform their dance during the canonization of the Lily of Mohawk.

"Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm!" How firm is your faith? Do you walk by faith and not by sight or feeling? Scripture teaches that the "Just shall walk by faith." Only through faith can you appropriate the promises of God.

Mary said: "Be it done to me according to Your promise." And it was done to her accordingly. Without faith, no man can please God. Therefore ask for faith. Walk by faith and not by sight or feeling. Enjoy the fruits of the Holy Spirit through faith. Ask St Kateri Tekakwita to obtain for you from Jesus whom she loved so much a gift of faith.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, July 12, 2020

I have come to bring the sword.

"Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword." (Matthew 10: 34).

Monday 13th July 2020, 15th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Henry. (973 - 1024). German. Crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014 by Pope Benedict VIII. How was a powerful man of the world, a man of war and international politics raised to the Altar as a saint? Henry used his wealth and power to promote the Kingdom of God by supporting missionary work. In spite of his cares of the earthly Roman Empire, his gaze was on Heaven, the eternal Kingdom.

Are you shocked by the words of Jesus in today's Gospel?
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword." Scripture tells us that Jesus is not just Prince of Peace but Peace Himself. Yet the Prince of Peace tells us that that He came to bring the sword. This statement was made to the Apostles before their missionary journey. The statement is to underline the reality that missionary work is not a vacation in Monte Casino. It is very serious business. Our saint of the day was involved in many bloody wars. So was King David, "the man after God's heart." The Kingdom of God belongs to those who are prepared to fight and seize it by force. (Cf Matthew 11: 12).

"Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." Challenges to the commitment of making the Kingdom of God first priority will come from families, friends, companies, governments, etc. The Christian must be prepared to draw his sword to fight the good fight.

“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (Matthew 12: 30).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The seeds that fell on rich soil.

"Some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.  Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Matthew 13: 8 - 9).

Sunday 12th July 2020, 15th Week in Ordinary Time.

Today the Church presents us a key parable in the Parable Discourse of the teachings of Jesus.
A sower goes out to sow and encounters four types of soil:

#1 Pathway.
#2 Rocky ground.
#3 Thorny Shrub.
#4 Rich soil.

The Responsorial Psalm 65 reveals how God carefully prepares the ground for sowing:

"You [God] have visited the land and watered it; greatly have you enriched it. God’s watercourses are filled; you have prepared the grain.  Drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, softening it with showers,
blessing its yield."

God cannot be blamed for the hardness of heart found in soils that failed. It is a mystery that out of the four types of soil, only one produced a harvest. The harvest of a hundred, sixty, thirtyfold depend on the understanding of the message of the Gospel and the commitment to it.

Why did Jesus say à propos the Parable of the Sower? "Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Faith comes from hearing the word of God. In the first Reading from Isaiah 55, God promises "My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it."
God has promised to be merciful to everyone who seeks Him. That promise will not return to God void.

O that today you will listen to His voice, harden not your hearts.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Lord says to us three times today: Do not be afraid.

 “Therefore do not be afraid of them." (Matthew 10: 26).

Saturday 11th July 2020, 14th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of a pivotal figure in the history of Christianity: St Benedict of Norcia, Abbot. (480 - 547). Italian and founder of the Benedictine Order. How many people do you know that has founded something that has lasted about 1500 years and is still going strong? Or have written a book that is still in circulation after 500 years? That is the true mark of greatness.
St Benedict is the co-patron saint of Europe. His rules for monastic life is still widely used. I am inspired by this rule: "Pray and Work."

#1 “Therefore do not be afraid of them." (Matthew 10: 26).
#2 "And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matthew 10: 28).
#3 "So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10: 31).

Three times Jesus said to His missionary disciples: Do not be afraid. We need to hear this many times a day. Most of us are too ashamed to admit how much fear rules our life: fear of the boss, illness, poverty, loss of job, etc.

God's loving and constant Providence is the overwhelming reason why we should not be afraid.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.  Even all the hairs of your head are counted.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10: 29 - 31).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, July 09, 2020

You can not come down from the cross.

“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves." (Matthew 10: 16).

Friday 10th July 2020, 14th Week in Ordinary Time.

Our key Scripture for today is from the Missionary Discourse of Jesus. Jesus continues to train His disciples for future missionary work. He tells them and us what to expect. They are:

#1 The mission field is Wolfland. Their shrewdness will come from their awareness that they are not alone. "Behold I am with you always."

#2 They will be arrested and arraigned before courts. They should not be anxious about how to defend themselves. "For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10: 20). The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete and Advocate is the Voice that speaks in Court. Be calm and confident and allow Him to do His job.

#3 "You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10: 22).
The missionary is not a baby kissing politician, a movie star or a socialite. He is the ambassador of the One who calls Himself "the Truth, the Way and life." Caesar may be offended by these credentials. So do not expect to be welcomed everywhere with open hands.

Don’t plan to come down from the cross. Once you put your hands on the plough, it is forward march to the very end. Salvation belongs to those who persevere to the very end.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

China continues to oppose the Kingdom of God.

"As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10: 6).

Thursday 9th July 2020, 14th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Augustine Zhao, Chinese priest and martyr and 119 of his companion martyrs. China continues to persecute the Church with unabated severity. Does China want to achieve a goal that the mighty Roman Empire failed to accomplish? The Third Reich of Adolf Hitler tried to suppress the Church but was suppressed.  Joseph Stalin died while trying to crush what the Bolsheviks called the opium of the people.

The missionary effort of the Church continues worldwide uninterrupted by persecutions and pandemics.
"As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

What is the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of heaven?
Where is it?
Who is in it?
How does it work?

Jesus Christ is the King. Where the King is, there is the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is unlike the Kingdom of David. The Kingdom of David was limited by geography and was temporary. The Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaims is universal and eternal. Jesus today exercises His kingship in the heart and mind of everyone who accepts Him and welcomes Him.

The seed of the kingdom exists in the Church. (CCC 671). The Church is the community of the Mystical Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

The Church welcomes everyone who presents himself for Baptism. The new Christian is instructed in all that Jesus has taught the Apostles. He is then admitted to the Sacraments of Salvation and begins his growth into the mysteries of Christ.

Our response to the gift of the kingdom should be intense gratitude and full commitment to the growth of the kingdom.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28–29).

Let me share with you the shortcut to the Good Life: Make the Kingdom of God your first priority in everything and the holy life that it calls for. Then believe without a single doubt that God who is so faithful and true will provide ALL your NEEDS. God who created you knows what you need and when you need it. 

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Israel is a luxuriant vine.

“Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain down justice upon you.” (Hosea 10: 12).

Wednesday 8th July 2020, 14th Week in Ordinary Time.

My brethren, has prosperity become a snare for us? The wise say: "Man's extremity is God's opportunity. Man's security is Satan's opportunity." Consider this:
At a time when the richest nations of the world have experienced unimaginable prosperity, less than 25% of the population care to worship God on Sunday. There are significant pockets of poverty in the wealthy nations. The gaps between the haves and have nots continue to widen. This is the profile of Israel when God sent Hosea the Prophet to the nation of Israel to announce that He the Lord will put an end to this nonsense one way or the other.

"Israel is a luxuriant vine whose fruit matches its growth. The more abundant his fruit, the more altars he built; The more productive his land, the more sacred pillars he set up." (Hosea 10: 1).

What shall we do my brethren? The Responsorial Psalm in today's Liturgy reminds us that God is a merciful God and that if we humble ourselves before Him, He will relent and restore us to His favors.

It is time to abandon consumerism and seek the Lord.
It is time for the rich man to open his eyes and see the Lazarus starving on his door steps.
It is time to bring an end to the culture of death and embrace the right to life from the womb to the tomb.
It is time to wipe out universally poverty, ignorance and disease.

"Seek always the face of the Lord.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!" (Psalm 105: 2 - 3).

The Lord is merciful and gracious.

SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, July 06, 2020

Do not sow the wind.

"When they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind." (Hosea 8: 7).

Tuesday 7th July 2020, 14th Week in Ordinary Time.

The Prophet Hosea warned Israel bluntly of the inevitable consequences of their choices and actions: "When you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind." Why is God so displeased with Israel?
"They made kings, but not by my authority; they established princes, but without my knowledge." Are we better?

When was the last time you heard about the will of God; what is God's will on this matter? Can we pray to discern God's will on this decision?
I suspect that there were prayers both individually and collectively to ask God for light and guidance before the lock down of Churches? We lost Masses, Confessions, Sacraments and Sacramentals, Holy water, etc. All this happened even before the government woke up to the threat of the pandemics?

St John Henry Newman says that God did not create human beings to be independent. He created man to depend on Him.
"But Israel has rejected what is good; the enemy shall pursue him." (Hosea 8: 3).
If you want a new king, consult your God O Israel. But when you do not,
you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind.

The Holy Spirit gives the Church the gift of the Discernment of Spirits to bless the Church with godly and wise decisions.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, July 05, 2020

My daughter, your faith has saved you.

“Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” (Matthew 9: 22).

Monday 6th July 2020, 14th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Maria Goretti (1890 - 1902). Italian. Virgin and Martyr. Maria was barely twelve years old when she was attacked by Alessandro Serenelli, a 19 years old man who tried to rape her. Maria resisted fiercely.  Alessandro stabbed her to death.

Maria forgave him in her death bed. Alessandro spent 27 of 30 years in prison. Maria appeared to him in a dream and brought him flowers. Alessandro Serenelli was in the audience at the Vatican when Maria was canonized in 1950. He later joined the Capuchin monastery.
St Maria Goretti is the patron saint of purity, young women, rape victims and youth.

In our Gospel verse for today, Jesus said to another desperate woman: “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” This could have been said to St Maria Goretti.
Without faith, we can do nothing. "The just shall live by faith."

"What is Faith and why is it so important?
"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead." (Hebrews 11: 1 TLB).

Everyone who matters in the Bible from Abraham, David, John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Peter and Paul were not just people of faith but lived by faith. St Maria Goretti bore witness to her faith by accepting her martyrdom.
The woman with the issue of Blood in today's Gospel exercised her faith:
“If I only touch him, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned around and spoke to her. “Daughter,” he said, “all is well! Your faith has healed you.” And the woman was well from that moment." (Matthew 9: 21 - 22).

We are saved by grace through faith. You can start living by your faith right here and now.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, July 04, 2020

The little ones know the mysteries of the Kingdom.

"Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will...You have revealed to the little ones the mysteries of the kingdom." (Matthew 11: 26, 25).

The gracious and mysterious will of the Father is to reveal to the "little ones" the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Who are the little ones and what secrets of the kingdom of God are revealed to them? We will take two examples:
St Therese of the Child Jesus popularly called the Little Flower and St Maria Faustina called the Secretary of Divine Mercy.

Therese had uncanny insight into the mystery of Divine Providence.
The Little Flower is a Doctor of the Church. She became a Doctor of the Church by teaching the little ways to Heaven she learned from God. Paragraph 274 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in my opinion echoes her teaching:

"Nothing is more apt to confirm our faith and hope than holding it fixed in our minds that nothing is impossible with God. Once our reason has grasped the idea of God's almighty power, it will easily and without any hesitation admit everything that [the Creed] will afterwards propose for us to believe - even if they be great and marvelous things, far above the ordinary laws of nature." (CCC 274).

St Maria Faustina brought us the message of Divine Mercy. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is universally very popular in the Church. The summary is below.
The ABC of Mercy:
A: Ask for Mercy.
B: Be Merciful.
C: Confidently trust Jesus for Mercy.

This is all you need to attract Divine Mercy.

"Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will...You have revealed to the little ones the mysteries of the kingdom." (Matthew 11: 26, 25).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, July 03, 2020

Feast of St Elizabeth of Portugal.

"I will restore my people Israel, they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits." (Amos 9: 14).

Saturday 4th July 2020, 13th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Elizabeth of Portugal (1271 - 1336). Elizabeth married King Denis of Portugal when she was very young. She set an example of Christian charity in the court and was the peace-maker between her husband and the children. After her husband died, Elizabeth became a Franciscan tertiary.

July 4th is marked in the United States of America as Independence Day to commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.

The message from Amos in the first Reading predicts an era of restoration. This nation needs peace and unity. God has given us abundance of material goods. Without peace, unity and justice they count for nothing.

Father, help us to serve each other in justice and mercy and share what we have for the welfare of all men and women. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Stop doubting Thomas.

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20: 5).

Friday 3rd July 2020, 13th Week in Ordinary Time is also the feast of St Thomas, Apostle, missionary and martyr. Christians remember Thomas as the "doubting Thomas" but also as the Apostle who brought us that profound expression of faith: "My Lord and my God." Thomas ministered to the Indian people who made him a martyr. Today is also the First Friday in July.

Doubt, unbelief, fear, worry are not from God. They are the instruments of Satan. They are are top tools in the Satanic playbook. No Christian saint is too advanced for Satanic attacks using these tools. St Thomas the Apostle had the benefit of the kindly mercy of Jesus generously extended to him to recover from his unbelief and make progress in faith. Jesus who is Emmanuel is ready to do for us what He did for Thomas. He saw the pleading in the eyes of Thomas and exchanged his doubt with robust faith.

How do we overcome our doubts and unbelief?
#1 Not by stop going to Mass or praying or feeding on God's word.

#2 Not by stop using the outward signs of our faith: genuflection, bowing, kneeling, prostrating, bowing, silence but by intensifying these practices in periods of fear, worry and uncertainties.

#3 Prayer is the activator of power O Christians. Our enemy, Satan knows this and fears the Christian who prays. In the warfare we are engaged in day after day, the Christian who prays has only one method of advancing in the battle field: PRAYER. This is why Jesus calls Prayer, a vital necessity.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus the Lord and Teacher Never commands us to Work Always. But He commands us to pray Always.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

First Friday in July 2020 - Sacred Heart of Jesus.

July 3, 2020 is First Friday in July 2020.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 7th month of the year 2020, we look at Promise #7.

#7.  "Tepid souls shall become fervent."

What is tepid?  Tepid is defined as lukewarm, slightly warm, unenthusiastic, apathetic, half-hearted.
Listen to what Jesus says about such persons:
"Because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."  (Revelation 3: 16).

Are you lukewarm with regards to Jesus, to spiritual things? Regain your fire through devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Get up and walk; your sins are forgiven.

“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9: 2).

Thursday 2nd July 2020, 13th Week in Ordinary Time.

The worldwide pandemics have created the most intense philosophical and spiritual questioning since the Enlightenment. What is the cause? Who is the cause? Why is it happening? The religious narrative was greatly weakened in the society after the experience of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Now many pastors are wary of sharing their true reflections openly and publicly. Listen to the bland and meaningless chatters on public media on the pandemics.

The word of God cannot be chained. “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
Sin causes suffering and suffering leads to repentance and salvation.
Jesus can forgive sins. Jesus wants to forgive sins. If we say we have no sins, we call God a liar. (1 John 1: 10). Therefore we must confess our sins of thought, word, deed and omission.

Reconciliation with God is the deepest need of man. The Lord is full of mercy. "Your sins are forgiven. Get up and walk."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Seek good and not evil.

"Seek good and not evil, that you may live; Then truly the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you as you claim.
Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate; Then it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph." (Amos 5: 14 - 15).

Wednesday 1st July 2020, 13th Week in Ordinary Time is also the feast of St Junipero Serra (1713 - 1784). Spanish Franciscan Priest who evangelized Mexico and California and firmly established the Church in these regions.

Junipero arrived in the New World and sought good and not evil. He fought for the cause of justice for the native people of the region.

The Prophet Amos in the first Reading is speaking to a people facing a pandemic crisis. He offered them an infallible vacine:
"Seek good and not evil, that you may live; Then truly the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you as you claim.
Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate; Then it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph."

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus confronts the power of evil and conquers them. It is absolute folly for modern man who at the very best has only 20/20 physical vision to downplay the existence of the devil and his activities in the world.

May St Junipero Serra inspire us to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, June 29, 2020

Lord save us; we are perishing.

"They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”  He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8: 25 - 26).

Tuesday 30th June 2020, 13th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of the First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church. In 64 AD, the vicious Emperor Nero set Rome on fire. To escape the wrath of the Romans, he blamed the Christians. Then he ordered all Christians arrested and be put to death.

The Apostles with Jesus in the stormy sea faced another type of threat to life. Jesus rebuked the winds and the sea and there was deep calm. The Apostles did not realize that the presence of Jesus with them in the boat meant that they were safe. Jesus asked them at Caesarea Philippi "Who do you say that I am?" They followed Jesus but did not know who He is?
“What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” (Matthew 8: 28). They wondered after the calming of the storm.

Do you personally know who Jesus Christ is? This knowledge in crisis could be the difference between life and death.
"God's faithful promises are our armor and protection." (Psalm 91: 4). The Holy Scripture is filled with these promises. They are for you and your children. Invest some time in learning them. "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." (St Jerome).

When I face a storm in life, I repeat several times:
"Jesus Emmanuel I trust in You. I surrender myself to You completely. Take care of everything Your way."
Do you know that the name of Jesus is a full prayer and an armor of protection against evil?

Daily Bible Verse @ Seekfirstcommunity.com

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

"Peter said to Jesus: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus replied: You are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church." (Matthew 16: 16, 18).

Monday 29th June 2020, 13th Week in Ordinary Time is the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul.

This great feast has been celebrated for Peter and Paul together from the earliest days of the Church. Why?
Peter and Paul are recognized as the principal pillars of the Church. We declare in the Creed: "I believe in the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." The one only Church founded by Jesus Christ on Pentecost Sunday is built on the foundation of the Apostles. Hence every Bishop in the Church enjoys legitimacy through Apostolic Succession from the original Twelve Apostles.

In Matthew 16, Jesus asked the Twelve and you and me:
"But who do you say that I am?"
In the past, I answered this with various faith formulas. Today I answer the question thus: "You are Jesus Emmanuel, the One who is with me, in me and for me always and everywhere." I repeat this formula often daily and it has helped me to draw from the two huge embedded promises in the sacred names of Jesus and Emmanuel.

And you my friend, who do you say Jesus is today?

Daily Bible Verse @ Seekfirstcommunity.com

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Do not be dismayed by the trials that you face.

"Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10: 28).

Sunday 28th June 2020, 13th Week in Ordinary Time.

Jesus so faithful and true did not over promise the rewards and privileges of discipleship. He did not under estimate the cost. The cost of discipleship may entail severe trials in health, family, finances, job and even death. Buyer beware. No need to be terrified. The Holy Spirit who is in you and always with you will help. He is the Helper, Paraclete, Friend, the Voice that speaks for you in court.

How do you activate this awesome power of the Holy Spirit? God has ordained Prayer as the Activator of Power. Use it as needed.
Pray always.
Pray everywhere.
Pray about everything.

"Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will come to free you." (Psalm 50: 15).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Feast of St Cyril of Alexandria.

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed." (Matthew 8: 8).

Saturday 27th June 2020, 12th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Cyril of Alexandria in Egypt. (376 - 444). Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Cyril played a crucial role in the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD to defend the oneness of the person in Jesus Christ, true God and true Man and the divine maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Theotokos (God bearer). As the Patriarch of Alexandria, he was a capable administrator and theologian.

The centurion said to Jesus in the Gospel of today: "Only say the word and my servant will be healed."
The centurion believed what he heard about Jesus and jumped to the conclusion that just as his word of authority is important in his army command, the word of God is infinitely more powerful.

Mary said to God at the Annunciation: "Be it done to me according to your word." Immediately the word became flesh. What happened when God said in Genesis "Let there be light?" There was light immediately. Or when Peter in the company of John said to the man born lame, "Stand up and walk?" It happened at once.

The Jews wondered: What is there in this man's word? The creative power of God is in His word. God created man in His image and likeness and gave him the power of life and death through his tongue.
In His ordinary Providence, God has ordained that prayer is the activator of power in man. The man who prays draws down divine power. The man who does not pray is insignificant.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com